"WHAT'S THE CLACKHOUSE?
By B.G. McCarthy


"What’s the Clackhouse?” he asked.
        I think my eyes went abnormally wide for a moment, maybe bugged out of my skull a little bit. He didn’t see me because I was behind him. 
        “Would you like some of those Halloween chocolate bars I’ve been hiding,” I ask sweetly.
        “Stay. I have a confession to make.”
        “That’s okay. Have an affair with whomever you like, dear.”
        “I need to talk about the Clackhouse.”
        He was watching a movie about Hitler on the History network, flat on his back on the sofa in the downstairs rec-room my children call the cedar-lined man hovel... He likes three channels and his hero has long been Jimmy Kimmel. We rarely watch television with good old dad.
        We do love him, but he isn’t with it on guuurrrl stuff. He doesn’t like American Idol or even Bulgarian Idol. The Gilmore Girls? He does like Lauren Graham. In passing. Lost? Too many pretty boys.
        Sigh. He wouldn’t know a Paul Smith suit from a Paul Bunyan suit.
        He just doesn’t get me.
        I just came down to tell him that he had to take the cans to the recycle bin. @#%$. Why didn’t I take them myself?
        “The Clackhouse?” he repeats. “You wanna tell me about that, poopyhead?”
        No, I don’t wanna. He only calls me that when he thinks he can get away with things by being cute. Usually I don’t mind. Usually I think he is cute.
        I think to myself as I watch Hitler yelling at Goebbels on the giant man-sized screen, that I should really learn what that computer tools bar is for. I ought to delete cookies rather than bake them.
        And people should think about that when they’re making smart remarks about my clack or call me poopy head. I make the cookies around here. Number one on my things to do list: Learn to clean out my cookies. I hate sharing a computer. 
        You see, I made this promise to my hubby after our last Clay related disagreement. Yes, we have those. I have never really had disagreements with hubby over my crushes before except when I dragged him to see that Harrison Ford movie where he played the pilot in WW11. God that was awful...
        What was that called? I have to look it up on IMDB. Harrow Street? It was harrowing and not in a good way.
        Anyway, hubby does not get Clay. I am twice his age. The last clack related incident involved forgetting to send the check to pay the car insurance in because I’d just heard about the Good Morning America concert and the Not A Tour and...
        It wasn’t good. I drove on expired insurance for a week... My daughter, a new driver, did, too. Thank God the snoopy neighbor called me...
        Anyway, I was really going to clean my favorites folder of some Clay Clack. Not just for the sake of the hard drive, but because I do spend a little too much time lurking at Clay sites. Before you brag about your understanding hubby, or say you live a single life, blissfully free to collect clack with your bevy of cats, know that there are some of us unlucky people who share a computer with Attila the Hun.
        Okay, he’s not that bad. He’s just not a Clay fan. He just doesn’t understand how I feel.
        I love Clay Aiken. Clay Aiken can take me to my happy place.
        I need my happy place, you know, being married to a man who calls me poopyhead as a term of affection. I know he’s jealous.
        Thing is I still can’t explain what exactly it is I do love about Clay.. It’s a totally unsexual thing for me but...it’s a thing all the same. It’s spiritual and that might be really bad in hubby’s belief system.
        I bite my lip. “The Clackhouse? Um, it’s a German company. Like Der Weiner Haus. You know, mail order sausage and all that stuff you can send for. Like Hickory Farms! It’s Clack Farm! I’m thinking of gifts for your brother and sister-in-law.”
        I think those two drips deserve something from Der Weiner Haus.
        “Don’t give me that,” he says.
        “Okay.”
        “What do you think? I just fell off the turnip truck?”
        “I’m a grown woman. I can look at Clackhouse if I like.”
        “That’s an awful name.”
        “It’s funny.”
        “You made a promise.” He looks a bit hurt. He has even turned down the sound on Hitler’s Luftwaffe.
        “Did you know that Jimmy Kimmel loves Clay?” I say in a fit of not knowing what to do. I will use my powers of Clackhouse knowledge to distract the enemy.
        He stares at me. He looks a bit stunned.
        “Oh, no. Not that way! Ha. Ha. He’s a Claymate. They’re friends now. I just found out on
the Clackhouse that he’s going to be on Jimmy Kimmel’s Christmas special. Jimmy liked Clay now. Jimmy supports him big time.”
        “Are you sure that’s not Jimminy Cricket’s special?”
        “That’s not funny.”
        “Your boyfriend’s about as skinny as Pinnochio.”
        “You like Jimmy, dear, “ I tell him. “Jimmy likes Clay.” Weak. “So, it follows that...”
        He sighs. “I thought you liked men like Clive Owen.”
        I had mentioned in passing that I thought Clive was great. That he should be the new Bond. Clive is great. He’s pretty. Hubby loves James Bond.
        “He’s a good boyfriend for you. I can deal with that. Clive Owen is forty. Clive Owen is up for Bond,” he says.
        Ah, ha! That’s the ticket. “Yes. Clive Owen. C.L. The Clackhouse is for him.”
        “Liar.”
        “You can’t pick the men I like. I still like you, dear. Can you take the cans to the corner?”
        “I went the Clackhouse,” he says. Like he’s admitting he went to the Little Crack House at Pooh Corner.
        “What?” I say. “You did?”
        “People are silly there,” he complains. “I should post something nasty.”
        My hubby, jealous, drive-by troll poster. What have I caused him to become? I bite my cheeks to still the guffaws. “Oh..you can’t. I don’t even belong.”
        He likes that answer. It isn’t like I don’t lurk there every day and wish I did belong...
        “You don’t have to worry about Clay Aiken. I’m not running off with him until Friday. You just have to trust me. I’m not even going to buy his Christmas balls or bid for his Doodle.”
        “What?”
        “Nothing, dear.”
        “I did tell you about Larry King,” he mutters. “I’m making progress.”
        “A day late, but thank you. And Clay is now a UNICEF ambassador like Harry Belafonte. And Roger Moore. You love them, don’t you?” I learned that info at the Clackhouse,” I tell him smugly.
        I go upstairs. Dr. Phil is on. I take out my mini-trampoline so he’ll hear me upstairs, squeaking and know that I’m not lurking at the Clackhouse. I am a fit woman. Ha! I hate this show. I go there to realize I’m cooler than these people.
        His show’s all about desperate housewives with deep secrets today. Women who do not feel like they can be open with hubby. Women who turn to another man...
        I feel a stab of deep guilt.
        Dr. Phil tells them it’s time to grow up, to come clean. They have to realize there is give and take. Mutual respect. Doing stuff as a unit. That another man is just a panacea for trouble in their life...
        Am I one of these Dr. Phil weirdos?
        I sigh and I think for a moment. I spend way too much time thinking about Clay Aiken when I ought to be writing. I am guilty.
        I should delete some of those files.
        I finish my jumping and go to put the trampoline away. Yes, I do spend way too much
time on Clay, to the detriment of my relationships. My poor children...
        It’s my dog’s birthday and I forgot to bake him his yearly bone shaped cup cake. First time in twelve years. It was the CD, DVD, book release day.
        I’m just starting down the stairs, struggling with the trampoline and my guilt, determined to delete the Clackhouse. Dr. Phil ends, the theme music winds down. A voice, loud and clear startles me and almost sends me down the stairs, ashcan over tea kettle in a heap of goo. 
        CLAY AIKEN!
        Like God has just yelled in my ear! Don’t give up, Betsy. You know you don’t want to.
        Okay, maybe Satan is calling me. (If you’re my hubby.)
        Clay Aiken! Merry Christmas with love. The new CD at Target! Now!
        I hadn’t seen that before! I tell myself. I read about it on the Clackhouse.
        It’s a sign. It is a sign.
        I think I’m going to see if they’ll let me join the Clackhouse. Maybe I’ll sneak my fave’s list onto my daughter’s computer.
 

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